Gulf Islands Secondary School teacher Jason Donaldson has earned the highest acknowledgment of his peers, receiving the Association of B.C. Drama Educators award for Drama Teacher of the Year over the weekend.
ABCDE is the professional specialists’ association representing theatre arts teachers across the province. The annual award is for an exemplary teacher who teaches K-12 and incorporates drama in and beyond the classroom.
Donaldson said it was a surprise to hear his name called out during the conference event, which was held Oct. 25-26 in Vancouver, and even more so to hear passages from letters of testimony supporting his nomination read out loud.
“Hearing words that colleagues and alumni had submitted was really, really moving,” Donaldson said. “Especially standing in a room full of drama teachers, who I know put in long hours of work and have made sacrifices in other aspects of their lives to support arts education, and the value it can bring to students and their communities.”
“It felt overwhelming to be recognized for work that is so important to me,” he added.
Along with feeling valued by his peers, attending the ABCDE conference and receiving the award has sent Donaldson back to his daily work on Salt Spring feeling inspired, re-invigorated and rejuvenated. His students are meanwhile just as thrilled about their teacher’s honour.
Grade 12 student Kahlila Ball is one of a group of friends who have worked closely with Donaldson throughout their high school years, both in the theatre and on the improv team.
“He’s changed so many lives — mine especially,” Ball said. “He’s taught me how to be a person in the world, a person I can be proud of.”
“I really think that recognition of any kind is really exciting and it’s so well deserved in this case,” said fellow student Calla Adubofour-poku. “And he’s kind of even more deserving because if he didn’t get the recognition he would still be the person he is.”
Adubofour-poku said Donaldson stands out for his willingness to speak to students as if they’re on the same level, and the feeling that he learns from them as much as he teaches.
“He affects a lot of students’ lives in an amazing way, on the daily,” Adubofour-poku said.